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NMD Offers Russia A Chance

"We have lived like pigs for half-a-century, so why not keep living like that for another fifty years?" In essence, that is what those who stonewall in defence of the 1972 ABM Treaty are saying when they reject all options to create anti-ballistic missile defensive systems. By opposing the development of such systems, however, the pro-ABM Treaty position creates a situation in which unsuspecting and peaceful citizens in Russia, the United States, and other countries are held permanently hostage to nuclear blackmail.

The "ABM at any cost" view could only have "guaranteed peace" during the insanity of the Cold War. It certainly did not prevent an accelerated arms race. Indeed, the first strategic nuclear arms reductions were not agreed upon until two decades later with the START-2 Treaty of 1993, a time when relations between Moscow and Washington had become more reasonable and realistic. Although the START-2 Treaty confirmed the ABM Treaty's importance, it also implied that new and more radical steps towards disarmament would follow. Unfortunately, this did not happen; it took Moscow 8 years to ratify START-2. In the interim, new threats have arisen.

Today, it is not only the superpowers who are capable of blackmailing the world with "super-murder." Mini-powers and even terrorist groups can adopt mass blackmail as their policy. Russia is as vulnerable as any country to such blackmail. So standing in support of the ABM Treaty and its ban on all national missile defenses is of no help to anyone.

Despite this, Russia automatically opposes change. Why? When will Russians stop being maniac and obsessive about America? The inferiority complex of Russia's derzhavniki (advocates of a powerful, effective state) reflects only weakness, not strength. It is similar to the fanatic feelings of a mouse who thinks that there is nothing more fearful than a cat. But with its gigantic financial, economic, and technological resources, America can be an exceptional partner for Russia as well as a nemesis. It is to that positive partnership that Russia should look.